Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi et al. Our heroes and freedom fighters. We learn about them in school, we find books about them even when we are not looking: comics, children’s version, biographies; millions of articles online, detailed Wikipedia accounts- name it.
In light of International Women’s Day accept my late and retro post for #BeBoldForChange
Besides trying to explain to my daughter why witches are evil and wizards are geniuses when it’s technically the same “profession” beyond the gender, she wants to know why all the comics she has read on heroes are men with the exception of Wonder Woman (which has its own controversies).
Myself, so ingrained in the patriarchy of heroism, felt ashamed for exposing her to that without giving her the women alternatives.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. During that time, who handled matters on the ground, who raised the children? Who perpetuated his voice to the masses while he was hidden away in prison, bound to be forgotten? When I watched a Mandela movie (one of the many), it painted Winnie in antagonistic light- we often think of her life as scandalous. Media paints her as ‘the controversial wife of Nelson Mandela’. Not to say that all she did was well, but would we have the same perception had she been a man? Freedom fighters are named so because they resisted. If they were men, they were heroes; if they were women, they were rebels.
I only recently came to know that Gandhi’s wife, also a political activist, was called Kasturbai. I have my ignorance to blame. Yet, if the information was as readily available, I am sure I would have come across it regardless. The same way I constantly come across Gandhi’s quotes in all my social media feeds. Can any one reading this post quote Kasturbai without having to google it? This for instance, “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” A simple quote we can relate to a myriad injustices, which I will not list at this moment.
Corretta Scott King, considered one of the most influential women in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. She took charge of the racial equality struggle after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Did you know it was she who advocated to make his birthday a national holiday? Did you know she advocated for LGBT rights?
The older I get, the more appreciate the International Women’s Day, the more I acknowledge my ignorance, the more I search for these women heroes to share with my daughter, and the more I seek to be a little hero in my own way and capacity.
There is a joke that says behind every successful man is a frustrated woman. In reality, it should say, “In front of every successful man is a bold woman.”
Meanwhile, I have set a date to watch Hidden Figures as I wait for the upcoming film on a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’.
Which woman hero could you share a fact or two about with us?